Hudson optimistic for season's start after spring debut

Veteran starter works scoreless inning in return from offseason ankle surgery

Hudson optimistic for season's start after spring debut

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After pitching a scoreless inning Wednesday against the Milwaukee Brewers in his Cactus League debut, Tim Hudson expressed confidence that he'll be ready to join the Giants' season-opening starting rotation.

Hudson must build enough stamina and arm strength to last at least six innings by the first week of April. He felt confident about accomplishing this, largely because he believes that his surgically repaired right ankle will remain a "non-issue."

Hudson, who entered Spring Training following ankle surgery for the second year in a row, said, "I think I'm actually ahead of where I was last year at this time."

That contradicted his poking fun at himself. "Osteoporosis starts making those bones heal a little slower," he said.

Hudson stranded runners at first and third base by retiring Martin Maldonado on a called third strike. It may have been a generous call, the right-hander hinted.

"Upper part of the [strike] zone, outside corner," Hudson said, referring to the pitch. "It was a Little League strike."

Hudson will turn 40 on July 14, prompting a reporter to ask him whether he thought his career would last that long when he broke into the Majors with the A's at age 23.

"Forty years old when you're 23 seems like forever away," he said. "Obviously you hope to play as long as you physically can."

Hudson has endured oblique injuries, Tommy John surgery and a horrific-looking fractured right ankle in 2013, among other maladies. Nevertheless, he called himself fortunate, befitting his status as the Major Leagues' active wins leader with 214.

"I've gone through health problems throughout my career, but it's stuff I've been able to overcome," he said.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.